Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Houston Person - Rein De Graaff Trio: Rein's Birthday party

 Rein de Graaff celebrates 70th birthday with a series of concerts featuring the legendary tenorist  Houston Person:  As full-bodied and comforting as home baked pie ( Quote: Richard Cook’s Jazz Encyclopedia)
Hans Koert

Rein De Graaff,  Dutch piano player and leader of his Rein De Graaff Trio, with guest player Houston Person on tenor saxophone, gave a concert at the Jazzpodium DJC, aka the Dordtse Jazz Societeit, located in Dordrecht, an attractive Dutch city near Rotterdam. Rein De Graaff, who celebrated last week his 70th birthday, scheduled a series of concerts  as a birthday present to his audience.

Houston Person-Rein de Graaff Trio: Jazzfeestje in DJS (Nederlands) - Houston Person- Rein De Graaff Trio: Rein's birthday party (English)

 In Dordrecht, the small, but cozy jazz club, was full packed to hear the groovy sound of the legendary tenor boss Houston Person.

 Houston Person ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Houston Person was born in Florence (SC) and hopes to celebrate his 78th birthday next weekend. He learned to play the piano as a kid from his mother, but became fascinated by jazz when he started to collect jazz records and learned to play the tenor saxophone.  He moved to Europe as part of his military service and played with musicians like Eddie Harris, Lanny Morgan, Lex Humphries, Leo Wright and Cedar Walton; with the latter he recently made a record, entitled Naturally. Back home he graduated as a jazz musicians at the conservatory and became a tenor player in one of those extreme popular Hammond organ trios.  One of his first recordings, early 1960s was with John Hammond Smith, better known as John Hammond.  His first own album, Underground Soul, featured Hammond organ player Charles Boston. 
He also recorded with Don Patterson, Billy Gardner, Ernie Hayes, Sonny Phillips and Charles Earland, who all wanted their piece of the pie. Houston Person can be heard with piano player Cedar Walton, Paul Chambers, Pepper Adams and Curtis Fuller, to list some.

Between 1968 and 1973 he recorded several albums with vocalist Etta Jones; they often played together until Etta passed away October 2001.
Eric Ineke (photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

It is not the first time, Houston Person joins Rein De Graaff in a series of concerts. Rein De Graaff is known for his short concert tours with (almost) forgotten US jazz musicians, entitled Stoomcursus Bebop ( Bebop Crash Course), he organizes since the late 1980s. I told you about that in a previous blog. Early 1990s Rein invited Etta Jones and Houston Person in a series of concerts, labeled as A Song For A Lady. In the winter of 1998 Houston Person was asked again for a series of concerts with David ”Fathead” Newman accompanied by the Rein De Graaff  Trio ( with Koos Serierse at the double bass and Eric Ineke, time keeper in Rein’s Trio for over 40 years, on drums.) I remember a great concert in the Porgy en Bess Jazz Club (Terneuzen)(The Netherlands), where both tenor players and the trio impressed.

Houston Person ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

In Dordrecht, Saturday night 3rd of November, 2012, Rein and his men played two sets with a lot of bebop standards. It was fascinating to listen to Houston Person’s full massive sound, which could easily fill the club ….. As an accomplished leader, dressed in his camel-coloured suit, he seemed to organize the set list and tapped the baton without intermissions between the tunes …… In two sets the band selected several standards like The Sunny Side of the Street and The Nearness Of You, a tune, Houston Person recorded for Muse with his octet in 1977 at Rudy Van Gelder’s recording studio in Englewood Cliff.

 Rein De Graaff (photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Houston Person is still going strong …… Recently two new albums were released by HighNote, entitled Naturally and So Nice, two great cd’s featuring artists like his old friend Cedar Walton, Warren Vaché and a dreamed rhythm section: Ray Drummond and Lewis Nash. But, although Houston Person is a sought after icon on the tenor saxophone, he loves to be part of debut albums by young promising musicians. This year he was asked to play as a guest at the debut album Home by US vocalist Shirley Crabbe and a few months ago I was impressed by the album Give Me The Simple Life played by a young starting jazz pianist Joe Alterman, who asked Houston Person and the Ahmad Jamal rhythm section for his debut album. A great album by a promising young jazz musician – for me, and you can put that in your pipe, Joe and smoke it, this album is one of the surprises for 2012.

 The Rein De Graaff Trio featuring Houston Person ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

The well known tune Moanin’,  that groovy archetypal hard bop theme, made a hit by Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers late 1960s,  was selected by Houston Person and became one of the highlights of the evening – the audience, normally rather noisy, liked it very much and went crazy. The final song was a blues, one of Person's specialities. He likes bluesy settings on a low simmer …… Richard Cook said in his  Jazz Encyclopedia: Houston Person: As full-bodied and comforting as home baked pie.  I wondered during the concert, why the tenor players from this generation need a microphone to amplify their sound? Their massive solid sounds fills the whole room, even without an amplifier.  

Houston Person ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Houston Person is remembered in Rein’s biography Belevenissen in Bebop by his love for Dutch stroopwafels, treacle waffles;  We konden geen tankstation voorbij rijden of er moest gestopt worden om stroopwafels te kopen (= We couldn’t pass a filling station, without a stop at its shop to buy some package of stroopwafels), Rein wrote. Houston, who hopes to celebrate his 78th birthday next weekend, was surprised with the little something I handed him as a birthday present ....

 Rein De graaff (photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Rein De Graaff, active for over 50 years in jazz, learned that he is still a great improviser, even without his reading glasses, which broke during the concert, has no plans to stop. Seventy years old and still going strong. Mind, Rein, that a jazz musician is like a good bottle of good winethe older the better! Serve Houston as an example.  Keep (it) Swinging Rein!

Hans Koert
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Rein De Graaff, Dutch bebop piano player for over fifty years, celebrates his 70th birthday with a series of concerts with his trio ( featuring Marius Beets and Eric Ineke)and the legendary American tenor player Houston Person. His massive groovy sound made the audience at the Jazzpodium DJS in Dordrecht ( The Netherlands) went crazy ..... A great birthday present! .... Keep (it) Swinging, Rein!


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